Monday, May 30, 2005

Happy Memorial Day! Thanks to my incredible powers of procrastination, I will be doing some actual work today (with a break for kickball if the weather holds). But I wanted to give a quick update on the bands I saw Saturday night.

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We began the evening at a party at Ryan Pound's house. Apparently it was an all-day cook-out type affair, but we got there late in the evening. Caspian Sea Monsters (Brian Sliwa's band) were playing when we got there. Unfortunately my memory of the evening is a little fuzzy, but I remember they ended the set with Brian (who had been playing guitar) and the bass player both playing bass on "Heart Full of Soul."

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Next up was The Cherry Valence, just back from their tour of Spain. It was the first time I've seen them since Erik and Charles joined the band, and since the sound was so bad I'm going to reserve judgement for now. I don't know what was going on, but the only way to hear anything but a high-pitched squall was to go inside the house. Danny said it sounded like the PA was broken. All I know is that it sounded wrong -- not bad, because this is an awesome band -- but just wrong. Of all the movies I made of bands during the night, the Cherry Valence one came out the best, so I'll post that soon.

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The cops showed up promptly at 11 p.m., so we headed down to Kings, where We Vs. The Shark, an woman-fronted Athens band with a bit of a Bloc Party sound, was already playing. I bought their CD, but haven't had a chance to listen to it yet. But Danny and I agreed they were the best band we saw all evening. They have my undying admiration for covering Groove is in the Heart.

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The final band of the evening was Strange, with Dave Mueller on guitar and vocals and Linc from The White Octave on bass. They reminded me a lot of The Bolshoi and Gene Loves Jezebel.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

A few words on Yahoo Launch.

I signed up for the yearly rate, which, thankfully, allows me to quit with no strings attched within seven days. The program downloaded easily to my computer, and automatically loaded all the music files currently on my computer into the player/search engine. It also downloaded Yahoo Messenger, which I do not use, and automatically set it to open when I turn on the computer. Like I said, I don't use it, so therefore I have to close it out whenever I log on.

When the music player plays my current files, the sound quality is good. However, no matter what I do, I can't get it to connect to wither the Y Unlimited Music Store or the LaunchCast Radio -- which was what I wanted in the first place. Clicking on either of those two options brings up an "Action Canceled" error message. At first I figured this was because my default browser is Firefox, but even after I made IE the default (a painful thing to have to do), it STILL doesn't work. I should mention that I'm running this on a four-year-old Gateway which has never worked well with XP, so there's a real good chance many of these problems are on my end.

Verdict: I'm going to quit the program and uninstall. And perhaps use my still-valid student ID to finally buy a new computer.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I just found this site: The "Conversations with Idiots" feature is priceless. Miss Laura and I have often talked about posting our own crazy IM conversations, but since our IM names are actually our own names (we use them for actual work), and since they often involve intimate details about our boyfriends, that might not be such a good idea.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Here's an interesting article updating the subscription music services. I'm debating whether to try the new Yahoo Launch service, but two things really irk me about it: 1. It only seems to work in IE (I'm addicted to Firefox now), and the music is not playable on iPods. Still, I like the idea of paying $60 a year to be able to listen to just about anything I want whenever I want. Well, actually, I like the idea of not paying anything, but I'm tired of bad sound quality, viruses and other nasties that come with services like Soul Seek. Plus, I want to at least attempt the legal model.

Related article: Washington Post: Music Subscription Services Reach for an Edge

Also, here's a quick article from Poynter on Apple's decision to provide podcasting capabilities in its next version of iTunes.

Related article: Apple Catches Up With Podcast Trend

Local blog Audio Activism suggests an International Podcasting Endowment

Related story: Audio Activism: International Podcasting Endowment

What I'm listening to: The new System of a Down. So far I feel the same way as I do about other SOAD CDs: The music's great, but Serj's voice makes me want to kill someone. I'll give a more thoughtful review later.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Black Metal Dialogues

This is just about the most absurdly funny thing I've read in a long time. I love the guy's e-mail address, and I love his idea for a black metal CD-release party both in Oslo and in his hometown of Gary, Indiana:

"i am thinking a fall release, just as the leaves are changing and the earthly death that is winter cackles in the distance. i would like to have two record release "parties", one in oslo and one in my hometown of gary, indiana, where i am the king of black metal. both "parties" will involve a single goat, tethered to a tree with the letters "WT" painted on its side in pig's blood. these letters, of course, will stand for witch taint, the greatest and blackest band in all of black metal. we will string up loudspeakers in the trees near the goat. at precisely midnight, the infernal sounds of our crushing debut will begin to play at a volume never before acheived by modern man. and that is when i and the members of mysticum will appear on the horizon on horseback. we will approach the goat, coming just close enough that our faces become dappled with the reflection of dancing flames (oh yeah, we should have a fire near the goat. i forgot to mention this). we will sit motionless on the horses (we will have one for each of us) until the final track of our legendary debut is finished. then we will turn and ride off into the distance, leaving the tethered goat shivering in the night. someone is going to have to come and get the goat eventually because it will probably be a rental. maybe we could have the drummer from mysticum do this since he won't be on horseback with us. he should totally come to the party though. just because he can't be a member of witch taint, doeesn't mean he shouldn't be able to witness the majesty. i don't want to be a total dick to the guy or anything."

On a totally different note, I noticed that traffic to this site had jumped recently, so I took a look at my Site Meter to see what was up. Apparently it all stems from my post about The Mars Volta, because everyone in the world is online looking for shit about them. Site Meter allows me to see exactly what people typed into their search engine to get here, and the results can be pretty funny. Here are a few actual phrases people are typing into Google, with notes on when searches came from other countries:

cedric bixler is sex
the mars volta shirt meaning
the mars volta bootlegs (From Portuguese Google)
mars volta 2005 bootlegs (Canadian Google)
concertina mars volta meaning
omar rodriguez lopez pics (Canadian Google)
mars volta songs (Canadian Google)
mars volta show review
mars volta t-shirt
meaning in mars volta songs
cedric bixler zavala pics
meaning mars volta songs (Dutch Google)
the mars volta shirt (Finnish Google)
omar rodriguez glasses
the mars volta guitar player
sounds like the mars volta (Canadian Google)
Cedric Bixler-Zavala voice
mars volta noises meanings (UK Google)
omar rodriguez-lopez uses boss

I should also note that I got a LOT of page views from people searching for The Fucking Champs, the KISS midget tribute band and Cheetie Kumar. I also got one that looked to be from Arabic Google searching (in English) for "the best musical sexy girls."
Yay! My friend Joe helped me put the Moaners video online. You'll need to size the screen down to see it better. (It's not the entire song, by the way.)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Here are a couple of photos from last night's show at Kings.

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The Legendary Shack Shakers -- polka-billy from Nashville (I think)

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The Moaners -- featuring Melissa Swingle (Trailer Bride) and Laura King (various bands). I like the Moaners because they hearken back to Melissa's early Trailer Bride days, only now she's a much better musician. Old-timers in the area probably remember when Trailer Bride was just two girls, before they became alt-country superstars.

The Dynamite Bros. (sorry, no photo) rocked as usual. I have a couple of Quicktime movies I took with my new camera, but I'm still trying to decide how to get them online.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

This is funny. Tim Ross is reminiscing about the early-'90s rock scene on his blog. Maybe it's time for me to post some old Chew Toy flyers.
I wrote this on my other blog, but I think it bears repeating:

Let me start this off by saying how much I love Slayer's "Reign in Blood." About a year ago I allowed a former boss to borrow my copy because his teenage daughter was getting into death metal, and he wanted to help her find some bands he thought she might like (not often you hear that).

Anyway, the girl promptly lost the CD, and it's taken me until now to go out and get another copy. I arrived home yesterday to find it waiting for me in the mail (yes, I prefer to order my music online). I cannot describe the joy of kicking off my shoes, uncorking a fine $7.99 bottle of Chardonnay, and relaxing with "Altar of Sacrifice" blasting over my stereo system. Now, if I can only convince my friend Johnny to teach me to play drums (listening to Dave Lombardo always makes me wish I could play drums).

David Ranii has a good article today in The News & Observer about how radio is trying to recapture listeners lost to iPods and satellite radio. I find it interesting that one of the methods is to incorporate "train wreck" playlists, which is something college radio has been doing for years.

Finally, Nicky Trimiar (Mercury Birds, Taija Rae) sent me a copy of her swirly new solo project, Basalt, which I'm listening to right at this very moment. It's lo-fi, mainly her and her guitar with a Casio and a few effects. I can definitely hear a My Bloody Valentine influence. And she's got a great voice too. e-mail her if you want more info.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Check out this cool new blog, Beauty Ninja. I want that cigarette bracelet, and I don't even smoke!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Rock 'n' Roll Dreamland

I have a new blog: Rock 'n' Roll Dreamland

Check it out and send me some of your dreams.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Check this out this weekend at Lump Gallery:


May 6 – 29, 2005
Opening reception: Friday, May 6th, 2005, 7 - 11 pm

Lump gallery/projects
505 South Blount Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

Lump gallery/projects is very pleased to present Scarab, an exhibition exploring “Heavy Metal” aesthetics. Lump will host an opening reception Friday, May 6th from 7 - 11 during the First Friday Gallery Walk located in downtown Raleigh. The exhibition will run from May 6th through May 29th and is on view Saturdays and Sundays from 1 - 5pm.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Got back today from seeing The Mars Volta in Atlanta, and I am beat. Danny and I decided to make a weekend of it; since he's not a Mars Volta fan, I made a deal with him that we would stop at every pawn shop we saw (and we saw plenty). Alas, other than a beat up Jazz bass and a '71 Strat that had, in his words, been "butchered" with the addition of a Kayler tremolo, he didn't see anything to strike his fancy.

I had been looking forward to this show for nearly two months, and was so excited that I hadn't been able to sleep the night before we left. I've been boring everyone I know (especially Danny) to death talking about The Mars Volta, but they truly are one of the most exciting bands I've heard in years. As a guitar player, I appreciate what Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is doing, but the main reason I like the band is because of Cedric Bixler Zavala's voice. There are very few vocalists I really like -- I've often said that I wish all music was instrumental, which is a bit of an exageration, but just a bit. Obviously, there are times when he sounds like Robert Plant (and, if you know me, you know Led Zeppelin is my alpha band). But he really reminds me of Freddy Mercury, not so much in the way his voice sounds but in the way he uses his voice, drenching it in sex and emotion and playing it as if it's another instrument. I've given up trying to figure out the lyrics, which I think is just as well. I don't think there's one particular meaning that you can draw out of any Mars Volta lyric. Whenever I sing along to any of their songs, I latch on to the few words I recognize, then make up something new to go along with it.

As I was writing this, I was thinking that Cedric's voice also reminds me somewhat of Diamanda Galas, especially in the way she mixes languages and screams with such abandon. If you crossed Diamanda and Freddy and sped it up to 45 RPM it would probably sound pretty close to Cedric.

Anyway, Danny and I ended up taking the long way (40 to 95 to 20) because he said there would be much less traffic and, I suspect, because he knew of more pawn shops along the way. That made the journey all the more exciting for me because it reminded me of going to see concerts when I was a kid. I grew up in coastal N.C., which at the time was a six-hour drive from Greensboro, where most of the major bands played (I-40 shaved about an hour and a half off the driving time). Going to a concert meant taking off from school, staying in a motel, going to the mall(!) and eating at exotic restaurants like Taco Bell. That was assuming my friends and I could talk someone's parents or older siblings into taking us. Driving into Atlanta, pulling up to the Holiday Inn and seeing other Volta fans from Mississippi or South Carolina lugging their stuff inside really evoked that feeling. Half the people at that show must have been staying at that Holiday Inn, which literally was right across the street from the club (The Tabernacle). When I checked in, I asked the guy where the club was, and before I could even finish he just pointed out the door.

"Who in the world is playing over there tonight?" he asked. When I told him, he wanted to know what kind of music it was, and not really knowing what to say, I just told him "space rock."

He nodded his head.

"Sounds very interesting," he said.

Danny wanted to nap, but I was too keyed up to sleep. I suspect he also wanted to mentally prepare himself for a "space rock" onslaught. I don't know anyone who loves the guitar more than Danny, but his guitar heroes tend to be more the virtuoso type (he would probably disagree with me on that). I had played him lots of Volta, and he didn't seem to really like it or hate it. I just didn't move him. But, God bless him, he went to the show with me even though his friend told him he was whipped and he had to miss King Diamond. He made up for it by wearing a Mercyful Fate T-shirt to the show.

What happened next was one of those times where I really wish I could just have a giant "do-over" in my life. If I did, I would have stuck to my original plan, which was to go to the balcony and get a good seat. Instead, I walked out onto the floor found a good spot right in front of Omar, and decided to stay there. Danny shook his head and said if I needed him he'd be in the back of the club. If I had that do-over, I would also have brought my brand new digital camera which has movie mode with sound. I debated for about a week whether or not I should bring it, but really didn't want to have it taken away from me or get kicked out of the show. Besides, I figured someone else would have a camera and would post photos one one of the fan sites. As it turns out, I think just about everyone in the crowd except me had a camera. When the lights came down and "Fistful of Dollars" started playing, there were so many flashes going off I felt like I was at a Hollywood premiere. Yet, when I whipped out my cell phone and tried to get a quick pic, a woman who worked at the club told me to stop. It was just as well; all I got was a blue blur.

Since this was my first time seeing Mars Volta, I didn't really know what to expect. As much as I love Cedric's voice, he sounds really off key on many of the bootlegs that I've heard. I couldn't hear him as clearly as I would have liked (and I couldn't hear Ikey at all), but what I did hear sounded flawless. I can't wait to find a bootleg of the show because I'd really like to hear what I was missing. "Concertina," one of my favorite Mars Volta songs (they played it second), was hair-raising. Other folks have written on The Comatorium that they thought the band wasn't as into it as they usually are. I can't really speak to that, but there was a lot less jumping around by Omar and Cedric than I thought there would be.

But of course, it wasn't too far into "Drunkship of Lanterns" (the first song) when I felt the first surge, slamming me from the right, into the barricade and the guy next to me. That's when I knew that I had probably made a big mistake in not sticking to my original plan. I truly can't figure out why anyone would want to mosh or crowd surf to The Mars Volta. I guess music affects people in different ways. The Mars Volta makes me either want to dance or just close my eyes and chill -- usually within the same song, which is one of the reasons this band is so great. Apparently it alo inspires really tall, baseball cap-wearing fools to elbow people in the head and scream out, "Omar, you fucking rock dude!"

As the music slowed, the surging slowed, like a sea being calmed. But as the tempo and tension would build, the crowd would surge again, arms and hair flailing, sweaty bodies washing over me. I grabbed the railing with both hands, locked my elbows by my sides and tried to push back. Somewhere in the middle of "Cygnus," I realized my fingers were going to sleep, and I thought to myself, 'I love this band too much to be this miserable while trying to see them,' so I slogged my way through the crowd and stumbled out. That gave me a good opportunity to get a beer and buy a T-shirt from the merch guy who comiserated with me about "the kids these days."

"I swear, this crowd would mosh to Chopin," he said.

Back in the main room I found Danny sequestered in a little alcove, which would have been the perfect place to see "L'Via" if it hadn't been for some really tall girl with a really big head gesticulating wildly to her friend about something and paying
not one bit of attention to the band. I spent the remainder of that song dodging back and forth, trying to figure out where she was moving and see around her. Since it was slightly quieter there, I asked Danny what he thought so far. He said that he feels like a band really shows its passion in the slower songs, and that he couldn't see it in them, even though they were very passionate in the faster songs. He also admired the way Cedric worked the crowd. The next day surprised me with a pretty damn good impression both of Cedric's microphone moves and the sounds that Omar was getting from his guitar.

We walked along the lower balcony trying to find a better spot. Finally, right as "Cassandra Gemini" was beginning, we struck pay dirt on the left (Omar's side). I got my first truly unobstructed view of the night (albeit, from behind the band, and was rewarded with a truly electrifying version of the song. At the end of the song, before they walked off stage, I also got to see a roadie hand Omar his glasses, which were resting on a towel like some sort of holy relic.

We decided to wait a while and let the crowd thin out before we left. That's when we talked to a girl from South Carolina who said that the band was going to play Music Midtown in Atlanta in June. They're actually playing the Bonaroo fest, not too far from Atlanta, that weekend, so it's definitely possible. Or she could have just been mixed up and meant Bonaroo. I can't see myself going to Bonaroo, but if the Music Midtown rumor turns out to be true I have a feeling I'll be taking another journey to Atlanta soon.